Thursday, January 3, 2013

Forgetting the Limits of Vocation and Disappointment

I often see much disappointment when I'm wandering the Lutheran internet.  People who look around the Synod and see this wrong, or that not happening, or this thing that isn't right over there.  I see efforts to bring about sweeping changes or even to "save the synod" or what have you.  And they all end the same way.

Crushing disappointment.

It's what happens.  And it's sad, because there seems to be one reason for disappointment.  People put their hopes above their vocation, their hopes above their station.

Consider.  You are a pastor.  You have a good thing going.  It's a good ________.  Whatever.  Fill in the blank with any of the cool things you've come across.  How did it start?  One pastor being what he is... a pastor.  Doing something cool with his call... and then sharing it.  And other pastors say, "wow, that's great" - and they jump in too.  And it even grows and becomes more popular - more people get involved.  Great!  Wonderful!

But then... it seems there inevitably comes this point... I don't know whether it's an ego point, or just a political point, but there comes a point where the folks involved get this idea that if only we could take *our* cool thing and make it *the* cool thing for the Synod, get the whole Synod involved, then we could fix ___________ for everyone!

Did you catch it?

Did you see the problem?

Vocation was abandoned.

I am a pastor.  I am called to care for my sheep.  I do something cool for my sheep, and I share my cool thing with other pastors who want to do something cool for their sheep.  It's all vocational - it's all pastors dealing with their own and sharing, it's all pastors helping one another out, being a resource for each other.

Then... why don't we go "big time" with this?  Suddenly, it's not a free thing, suddenly it's not pastors focusing on their own sheep, or a group of guys focusing on people who want to use a simple idea that they share.  Nope.  Now it's about changing others... it's about trying to wrangle other folks to get on board, it's about changing people who have no interest.

No longer is it a service... it's a club.  A club you better join, or we will make things difficult for you.  A club in the "blunt object to keep the peoples in line" sense of the word as well. 

Oh, sure, it might still do the service it had -- but more and more attention gets sucked away from vocationally serving those who want to learn, whom you have been called to serve... and more and more moves on to manipulating and influencing the other guy over there... you know, the one to whom you have no call to preach or teach.  The one who happens to be antagonistic.  So then, instead of simply serving your own, now you have to defend what you are doing to prove to the antagonists that what you are doing is good... then you actually have to go on the offensive, show how they aren't with it.

And it stinks.  Things turn sour.  They don't get it.  And it's more and more work.  And the Glorious Revolution never comes.  And even the good service you had... well... it seems so... dour.  I mean, sure, it might be doing fine... but that growth waned, or fell flat, or even is still growing, but it's not growing into the critical revolutionary mass that will reshape the LCMS or American Lutheranism or whatever.


Disappointment.  And why?  Not because you are failing in your vocation -- disappointment because you are looking to work outside of your vocation.

Remember who you are, what you are doing.

I'm a Pastor.  I write little blog for my own entertainment and thinking.  I help out on another blog that is dying. I help out answering questions on - when they write the history of the LCMS in 2100, no one will remember my name.  I will not have changed the world. 

But I will have been a Pastor, doing my thing in my parish, helping out a few friends in things.  And you know what... that's what I've been called to do.  And that is no mean thing. 

When one accepts the limits of his own vocation, when one gives us the dreams of earthly glory and power, the idea that he will be a new Luther... then there isn't nearly as much to be disappointed in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe not totally relevant, but I read this right after I read, A History Lesson, seems appropriate